How Does a Propane Gas Fireplace Work?

Many Models Can Operate During Power Outages

fireplace service iowa Many Iowans have added a propane gas fireplace to their home for both comfort and ambiance. Popular benefits include attractive realistic flames that bring warmth and coziness to a living space, which increases the value of your Iowa home. Plus, many fireplace models can operate during electrical power outages, providing a critical source of heating in the midst of the winter cold.

Among the different models you can choose from are what’s known as a ventless fireplace–also referred to as an unvented or vent-free fireplace. Here’s how this type of fireplace works.

Propane gas flows into a gas burner mounted in the fireplace. This is a specially designed burner that burns the gas cleanly, leaving behind almost no exhaust. This is also how a propane gas stove in your kitchen works.

When ignited, the flames run through gaps in artificial ceramic fiber logs, providing you with the illusion of a real wood-burning fireplace.

One popular application is the vent-free gas fireplace log set, a self-contained system that can be installed in walls or even open areas, with no outlet to the outdoor air. These gas log units can also be installed in place of old and unused wood-burning hearths that connect to a chimney but where the flue has been sealed shut.

A ventless gas fireplace is a great choice if you are looking for the highest heating efficiency possible. As its name implies, this type of fireplace is not vented to the outside. Because of this, all the heat produced is contained in the living space. Ventless fireplaces are more energy efficient than vented fireplaces because no heat escapes up the flue, so you’ll save money on fuel.

Pros and Cons of Ventless Gas Fireplaces

If you decide on a propane gas fireplace insert in your existing masonry fireplace, you need to decide whether to get a vented or vent-free model. Efficiency, fireplace location, local building codes, and appearance of the fireplace are all considered before the gas fireplace installation.

If you choose vented gas logs, you’ll see a lifelike flame that is comparable to a genuine wood fire. However, to get this look, an open chimney flue or damper is required, and a lot of the generated heat will escape through these venting outlets.

With vented gas logs, you’ll have excellent energy efficiency, but the flame may not be as lifelike or powerful. The result: it doesn’t provide quite the same level of warmth. A thermostat regulates the temperature in vent-free log sets to maintain a constant environment. Because vent-free gas logs introduce moisture to the air, adequate ventilation is necessary to prevent mold and mildew growth.

And because vent-free gas logs do produce a small quantity of exhaust into your indoor environment, they are not appropriate for bedrooms or other small, closed spaces like bathrooms or RVs. Vent-free gas logs are also prohibited in some local building regulations. Before going ahead with your ventless gas fireplace installation, you need to confirm that vent-free gas logs are permissible in your community.

How Often Do I Need to Replace My Gas Logs?

One of the most common questions for people who have a propane gas fireplace in their home is this: how often should I replace the logs in a gas fireplace?

The short answer is, it depends on the type of gas logs you choose. Ceramic refractory gas logs, which are made from reinforced cement, can last 8-10 years before showing signs of wear.

On the other hand, lightweight ceramic fiber gas logs, which are made from a material that’s similar to hard foam, can typically show signs of wear after about five years of use. However, if not subjected to heavy use, these logs can typically last 10-15 years before they need to be replaced.

Read more about propane gas fireplaces.

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